You may love your morning cup of coffee, but do you know what’s lurking in it? According to a scientist, some people who drink pre-ground coffee may be consuming ground-up cockroaches along with the beans. Yes, you read that right. Cockroaches.
This disturbing revelation was made by Douglas Emlen, a biologist and professor at the University of Montana, who shared an anecdote about his advisor George Ichorph, an entomologist who had developed a severe allergy to cockroaches after handling them in the lab for years.
“He couldn’t even touch cockroaches without getting an allergic reaction. And because of that he couldn’t drink pre-ground coffee,” Emlen said in a 2009 interview with NPR. “And it turned out when he looked into it that pre-ground, you know, your big bulk coffee that you buy in a tin, is all processed from these huge stock piles of coffee. These piles of coffee, they get infested with cockroaches and there’s really nothing they can do to filter that out. So, it all gets ground up in the coffee.”
Emlen explained that his advisor had to drink only whole bean fresh ground coffee to avoid the cockroach allergens. “He finally explained to me he had to drink only sort of whole bean fresh ground coffee. And it was because of cockroaches,” he said.
But how common is this problem? And how harmful is it to drink cockroach-infested coffee? Well, it turns out that the US Food and Drug Administration allows a certain percentage of insect parts in food products like coffee and chocolate, as long as they do not pose a health hazard for humans.
“Technically speaking, if I’m not mistaken, the FDA regulates the per cent by dry weight of food stuffs like this that can be ground insect parts and make sure that it doesn’t end up being too much of the total,” Emlen said. “And it’s small, it’s a trace amount.”
However, for some people who are allergic to cockroaches or have asthma, even a trace amount can trigger unpleasant symptoms. Cockroach allergens are proteins that are specific to the insect and can cause sneezing, itching, wheezing and other respiratory problems in some people.
“Pre-ground coffee is more likely to have cockroach fragments since it is not as processed as instant coffee. As said, it is only about 10% that end up in coffee; which is too small to taste or feel. So you needn’t to worry unless you are allergic or have asthma,” according to All Home Ideas, a website that provides tips and tricks for home improvement.
So what can you do to avoid drinking cockroach coffee? The best option is to buy whole beans and grind them yourself at home. This way, you can ensure that your coffee is fresh and free of any unwanted additives. You can also opt for instant coffee, which is more processed and less likely to contain cockroach fragments.
But if you are not too bothered by the idea of drinking a little bit of insect protein with your caffeine, then you can continue to enjoy your pre-ground coffee as usual. Just don’t think too much about what’s in it. Cheers!
– Does Ground Coffee Contain Cockroaches?, Snopes.com, March 15, 2021
– Scientists who work with cockroaches often become allergic to preground coffee, SPRAT, March 13, 2021
– Pre-ground coffee contains cockroaches, can cause allergic reaction, news.com.au, October 22, 2019